How to make a Green Thickie: All your questions answered



How to make a green thickie - The Filling Green Smoothie

A Guide to making the perfect Green Thickie every time (FAQs)

A lot of people ask me various questions about making Green Thickies so I thought you might find this article useful if you’re just starting out.  Making a Green Thickie is very easy once you are confident that you are on the right path.  Hopefully you will find the answer to your questions here.  If you have any more questions about making Green Thickies, please let me know and I’ll answer them and add them to this post.  Please find a contents list below with links so you can jump straight to the relevant question.  Do you want to try a Green Thickie?  This basic Green Thickie Recipeis the perfect starting point.

What ingredients are in a Green Thickie?

A Green Thickie has at least 5 ingredients, but usually 6.  It is made up of:

  1. Liquid (Water/Milk/Juice)
  2. Greens (Spinach or Kale are great) or Green Powders
  3. Filler (e.g. Oats or Coconut.  Click here to see all 20 fillers)
  4. Seeds or nuts (Any unsalted seeds or nuts)
  5. Sweeteners (dates, raisins, agave nectar, maple syrup, coconut Palm sugar, stevia, honey)  I often use Homemade Date Paste.
  6. Fruit (Any fruit will work) or fruit powder

What order do I put the ingredients into the blender?

Add the ingredients in the order stated above.  First blend up your liquid with the greens, then add the harder ingredients (nuts or seeds) followed by the fruit last.  If you try to add the greens last you may run out of space in your blender and your blender may not have enough power to pull them down to the blade.

How many servings will a Green Thickie recipe make?

Each Green Thickie recipe makes 2 large servings. (approximately 16 oz, 500 ml or 1 pint).  The quantity produced varies slightly from recipe to recipe depending on the consistency of the ingredients used and may be a different colour to the photo. Half of this recipe should serve one person for breakfast and keep you going until lunch. (or any other meal) You can always save the other smoothie for your next meal or the next day, or share it and give someone else an energy boost.  If you only want a serving for one person just half the recipe.  If you want a small serving as a snack, make a quarter of the recipe.

Is one serving of a Green Thickie really enough to fill me up?

The average women who doesn’t do much exercise will probably be filled up with one serving of a Green Thickie, but calories in Green Thickies do vary from 300-600 so the best thing to do is just eat until you are full up, or you can track the calories if you are following a calorie controlled diet.

Some people however do need to eat more calories.  Men, those doing a lot of exercise, if you have any active job, need to gain weight or if you are breastfeeding you may probably need more than one serving.  I would just make the full recipe and have as much as you need.

Do I have to include the Greens in the recipe?

As with all my smoothie recipes, you are welcome to leave the greens out.  The recipe will work just as well without them, however if you’re not used to green smoothies, you will be amazed at how much healthier you feel just by adding the greens in.  You can always start out with a few spinach leaves and work up to 1 packed cup.

I can’t eat oats. What can I replace them with? 

To make a Green Thickie a meal replacement drink, you have to include something that’s actually going to fill you up. I started off adding oats to my smoothies but I evolved to 20 different fillers.  To see all 20 fillers, click here

How do I measure a Cup in the recipe?

1 standard US cup size = 240ml.  It is about the same as a normal UK mug up to the point where you’d normally fill the mug to (not right to the top).  UK measuring cups are 250ml but it won’t make too much difference to your Green Thickie if your measurements are out as you can adjust them to your own taste anyway. If your smoothie is too thin you can add more fruit, seeds, nuts or fillers.   If it’s too thick you can add more water.

How long do I blend it for?

If you have a powerful blender such as a vitamix or a blentec you will probably only need to blend it for between 40 seconds and a minute and a half.  If you have a standard blender you may need to blend it for up to 5 minutes.  Just keep checking the consistency every minute and stop either when the blender starts getting too warm or the smoothie isn’t getting any smoother.  You will get to know your own blender after a few tries.

Waldorf Salad Green Thickie

Do I have to use milk if it’s listed in the recipe/What type of milk?

No, not at all.  You can substitute water for the milk.  Water is much better for you as it’s much easier to digest.  Sometimes I use non dairy milk which is fortified with vitamins D, B12 and calcium to ensure I get enough of these as a vegan, or if a recipe needs to be a bit creamier. I only recommend non dairy milk, not milk derived from animals.  There are so many reasons for not drinking dairy milk, but if you read the China Study book by Colin T Campbell, you will understand a lot of them from a health perspective.  You can substitute any type of non dairy milk for the one in the recipe.

Can I use fruit juice instead of water?

You can use fruit juice if you prefer it.  Green Thickies taste lovely made with fruit juice.  I wouldn’t recommend it all the time though as shop bought fruit juice has been pasteurised so there’s not much goodness left in it and it’s very high in sugar so it really spikes your blood sugar levels.  Sometimes they even add sugar and milk so check the ingredients first.  Freshly squeezed fruit juice is much better for you as it’s still got the nutrients intact.   However I wouldn’t recommend this every day for the same reasons, it’s missing it’s fibre and I prefer to use whole foods most of the time.

What kinds of fruit can I use?

Any type of fruit can be used in a Green Thickie, however even Green Thickies can become ‘Green Thinnies’ if too much water is used or fruits that aren’t creamy enough are used on their own.  If you don’t mind it a bit thinner, then use the amount of water you prefer to reach the right consistency for you.

When making a traditional green smoothie, you had to be careful of the combinations of fruit you added to your green smoothie.  For example if you just made a green smoothie with apples and greens or pineapple and greens, it wouldn’t blend properly and would separate. This is because greens along with apples and pineapple are mainly insoluble fibre so they don’t break down properly.  However insoluble fibre is absolutely essential for your health as it expands to many times it’s size and absorbs all your toxins and carries them out of the body.

Soluble fibre is also essential for slowing down the release of sugars, preventing diabetes, carrying cholesterol out of the body and improving your bowel movements.  Most fruits contain soluble fibre.  So as all Green Thickies contain fruit, there is always enough soluble fibre to stop any combination of fruits and greens separating.

So choose any fruit you like, but notice that some fruits contain more water such as pineapple and strawberries and other fruits are much thicker such as bananas and pineapples.  So you will have to adjust your liquids accordingly.

Can I use a different type of greens to the one in the recipe?

Use any mild greens to make a Green ThickieYes, again use any type of green you like.  Experiment as see which ones you prefer.  It’s always better to start out with mild greens so it doesn’t put you off or taste too bitter.  Mild greens that can all be substituted easily are spinach, kale, chard, bok choy/ pak choy, collard greens, corn salad/lambs lettuce and some types of lettuce are mild enough to include.  Parsley can also be good with some combinations of fruit, for example it’s great with pineapple, and basil is lovely with strawberries.  Mint can be added in small amounts.  Broccoli can be fairly mild if you don’t use too much, maybe a cup or two per recipe.  But it won’t break down very well unless you have a powerful blender.  You can try steaming it first for a smoother blend but this will reduce the nutrients.

Should I rotate my greens?

I believe that we should rotate all our foods, not just our greens. In my opinion if you try your best to eat seasonally, then you naturally will eat a varied diet and avoid any build ups from any one particular food.  I also believe grains should be rotated and if you’re not getting grains from your other meals you could use a different type of filler in your green thickies occassionally.

Can I use frozen greens in my Green Thickie?

I used frozen spinach in my smoothie for half a year, then realised it says on the bag, ‘not to be eaten raw’.  I found out this is because they don’t expect people to eat their greens raw, they expect them to be cooked, therefore they aren’t as stringent with their  health and safety practices as they would be with something like fruit.  Frozen fruit is expected to be eaten raw so that is perfectly safe to do so. It’s totally your choice whether you do or don’t take the risk.  I can’t advise you either way.  I probably would eat frozen greens from time to time if I had no fresh greens, or to get some more nutritious greens as the fresh greens will have lost a lot of their nutrients by the time I eat them.  Some people steam their greens before adding them to their smoothies.  I don’t really see the point of this. I think the point of eating a smoothie is to get healthy raw fruit and veg.  If you’re going to cook your veg, you might as well just add it to a soup or stew.

Can I freeze my own greens for use in a Green Thickie?

Yes, ensure you freeze them in cup portions.  Pack a cup tightly and then press it into a bag or other container and freeze.  This way you can just put the greens straight into the blender in the correct portion size.  Make sure your blender can cope with frozen greens first though.

My greens have gone off before I’ve used them

When your greens have started to turn, they will wilt, go brown, soggy and smelly.  I wouldn’t eat them in this condition as they won’t be very nutritious and they aren’t so safe to eat.  However if you are struggling to keep your greens fresh, here’s a great tip.  When you buy greens, take them out of the plastic bags they came in as they won’t last long in there.  Empty them into a bowl or other container and place a damp tea towel/ cloth over the top of the dish.  This will help the greens to get some ventilation and keep the moisture in so they don’t dry out.  They will probably last a week if you do this.

What type of seeds and nuts can I use?

Any type you want as long as they are plain and haven’t been toasted, roasted or salted.  Raw nuts are much better for you as they haven’t been heat treated so they are more nutritious, but they are harder to find and much more expensive.  I use raw nuts when I can get hold of them, but most of the time they aren’t available to me at the moment.  Some people struggle to digest nuts and I am definitely one of them, however I never have a problem with nuts in a green thickie as they have been pre-digested with the blending process.

It is also much easier to blend and digest your nuts and seeds if you also soak them overnight before use.  Always rinse and discard the water used for soaking as it contains tannins, dust and residue.  Soak in the fridge.  In fact to save you time, you can store a variety of nuts and seeds in the fridge constantly soaking.  As long as you change the water every few days, this will  make it so easy for you just to grab some when you feel like it.

The most nutritious seeds you can use are sprouted seeds of any variety.  It is very easy to sprout seeds, and if you have a very inexpensive sprouting tray, all you have to do is pour a glass of water over them twice a day, and in a few days time you have some of the most nutritious foods available for you to eat in your very own kitchen.  The reason why sprouts are so good for you is they are actually alive and growing unlike the fruit and veg that has been picked unripe weeks ago and has been stored in an airless warehouse ever since.  You can add sprouted seeds to your smoothies and salads.  Studies have shown major health improvements when people suffering from malnutrition were given sprouts in addition to their normal diet, their health recovered dramatically.

My smoothie is lumpy

If your blender isn’t powerful enough to make a completely smooth smoothie, there are still things you can try to improve the texture:

  • Ensure you are adding the food in the correct order, liquids, fruit, greens, seeds/nuts, filler, anything else.
  • When you first put the ingredients in the blender, pulse a few times until all the food is half blended, then set the blender going first to a low setting, then turn it to high and let it run until smooth.
  • Try adding half the liquid and blending the fruit and greens bit by bit to make more of a thick paste.  Then once everything is blended with minimal liquids and as smooth as it will go, add the rest of the liquid to the blender.  This makes it easier to blend away chunks if the mixture is thicker.
  • Kale seems to blend a bit smoother than spinach.
  • Creamy fruits are easier to blend such as mango, banana, peaches, melon, nectarines, apricots, and persimmons.  Fruit which are harder to blend include all berries, oranges, apples, pears and pineapple can still be a bit bitty after blending.
  • Pre-soak your oats. (Quick cook oats will absorb the liquid, so reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe)
  • Pre-soak your nuts/seeds and rinse them, to make it easier for your blender.
  • Cut up your food into smaller chunks.
  • You can also pre-soak your dates, anything from 15 minutes to overnight which will make them easier to blend.  Include the soaking water in your smoothie.
  • You may be able to buy chopped dates, and chopped or ground nuts for use in your smoothie.
  • If you have more time, try grinding your oats, seeds and nuts in your coffee/seed grinder.
  • Blend your smoothie for longer, even up to 10 minutes but include some frozen fruit or ice cubes so your smoothie doesn’t get too warm.

My smoothie is warm

If you want to drink your smoothie straight away then you can replace some of the liquid with ice cubes, or some of the fruit with frozen fruit.  This should keep it cool enough.  Only put the ice cubes or frozen fruit in your blender once all the other ingredients are partly blended as your machine will cope with it better by that stage.  You might need to use crushed ice or let your fruit defrost a bit before you add it to the blender if your blender isn’t powerful enough.

Also, avoid letting your blender run any longer than it needs to.  If you need to add your ingredients in one at a time, add the next ingredient once the last one is partly blended, not fully blended as it will take too long if you wait for every single ingredient to become smooth before you add the next one in.

If you don’t intend to drink your green thickie straight away, you can store it in the fridge and that will cool it down nicely, or if you want to drink it within the next 30-60 minutes you can store it in the freezer to cool it down quickly but don’t forget about it! You could always add ice cubes to it once it’s finished if you don’t want to water it down or if your blender doesn’t blend ice cubes.

Try not to blend your smoothie to such a heat that it actually starts to cook in your blender as this will destroy the nutrients.

My smoothie is too thick

Just add some more liquids and blend it again, or if you have stored it in the fridge at a good consistency and come back the next day to find it’s really thickened up (as I usually do) you can just pour a little bit of water into the top and use a fork to stir the water in and thin it down.

My smoothie is too thin

To thicken up a smoothie you can either add more thickening fruit such as banana or mango, you can blend up some nuts or seeds or add more fillers.  If you don’t want to blend it anymore, you can add some chia seeds to it, leave it in the fridge and it will naturally thicken up but still be nice and smooth.  Dried fruits such as apricots or figs are very gelatinous so they will really thicken up your smoothie.

My smoothie is brown

Yes it’s not a nice colour, even worse than getting used to a green smoothie, but certain fruits such as watermelon or strawberries, mixed with greens will produce a brown smoothie.  If you want your smoothie to be a lovely purple add some dark berries to it.  If you want it to be pink, add some beetroot to it.

My smoothie is bitter

Adding mint can make your Green Thickie very fresh tasting but can overpower itYou may have added too many greens or your fruit may not be ripe.  Oats are fairly neutral in taste so unless they have gone off, oats or other fillers shouldn’t make your smoothie bitter.  Seeds and nuts that have gone off will taste bitter too as will toasted seeds (as I discovered to my disgust that I’d added toasted seeds instead of sunflower seeds one day- yuk!).

Another reason you may have an extremely bitter smoothie is if you have included any of the pith from citrus.  The pith from lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit and to a certain extent from tangerines, clementimes, or mandarins that are difficult to peel will taste very bitter and will get increasingly bitter, the longer it’s left in the fridge. Either use just the juice from citrus or if using the whole fruit ensure you cut off all the pith and drink it straight away.

If you are sure none of your ingredients have gone off and you still want to be able to drink your smoothie you can try adding some extra dried fruit, some other liquid sweetener such as agave nectar or maple syrup.  You can add some lemon juice to balance out the flavour and just double the rest of the ingredients but not add any more greens.  Some greens such as herbs or rocket/arugula have such a strong taste that it can’t be hidden.  You could try turning it into a savoury soup, but sometimes it’s better just to call it a day and get rid of it, or grin and drink it anyway.

My smoothie isn’t sweet enough

Either add more sweet fruit such as banana or mango, or dried fruit such as dates, raisins or a liquid sweetener like agave nectar.

I want my Green Thickie to be even more filling

That’s easy, simply add enough fillers to suit your appetite and diet.  The great thing about fillers is you can add as many as you like and they are such a neutral taste that they don’t alter the taste of the recipe too much.

How do I store the Green Thickies and how long will they last?

You can store the smoothies either in the fridge in a covered glass/jug or a bottle or mason jar.  They will keep for up to 3 days.  They are best eaten straight away or the next day and the taste continues to decline the longer you keep them.

You can freeze your green thickies too and defrost them in the fridge before use.  They should last up to 3 months in the freezer and there is less loss to nutrients than storing them in the fridge.  I saw a great idea for freezing green thickies in silicon cupcake cases, then when you want to drink them, blending the frozen smoothie cupcakes with some coconut water to make a lovely cold green thickie slushie.

What type of oats can I use?

You can use any type of oats you like, instant oats, oatmeal, quick cook, porridge oats, rolled oats, steel cut oats, oat groats or raw oats.  You can read more about how to add oats to your smoothie here.

Do I have to cook the oats first?

No, none of the oats require cooking before hand.  Most oats you buy in normal shops have already been heat treated so they are safe to eat them straight out of the packet.

Do I have to soak the oats first?

The only oats you should really soak first are Steel Cut, Oat Groats and raw oats.  These oats are tougher and haven’t had as much heat treatment. The liquid helps break down the cell walls Soak them overnight in enough water to cover them, then rinse them before using them in your smoothie.  Some research suggests that a lot of the nutrients are in the water so you don’t have to drain them, but other says small amounts of phytic acid is released into the water so it’s better to drain them. The choice is yours.  I have tried it both ways and don’t notice a difference in either the taste or the way I feel.

Although, you only really need to soak steel cut and oat groats before use, you will find the blender will cope much more easily with the oats if you soak them first. If you don’t have a powerful blender and want to soak your instant oats, oatmeal, porridge, quick cook or rolled oats, soak 1 cup of oats with 1 cup of the liquid from the recipe.  Cover it and store it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning it will resemble porridge and you can add it straight to the blender with the other cup of liquid and the rest of the ingredients.

All oats are easier to digest and blend if they are soaked first but if you don’t have time to pre-soak, don’t worry you can still blend your oats up for your Green Thickie and drink them straight away, it’s just not as easy on your blender or your digestion, but if it all works out fine then do what works better for you, until you can get yourself more organised to soak your oats first.

Do you add powders and other superfoods to your Green Thickies?

No, I don’t like to add too much extra stuff to my Green Thickies.  You are of course welcome to add whatever you like to your green thickies.  A lot of people love to add other ingredients to these smoothies such as:

But I very rarely use this for the following reasons:

Fresh is best

The reason I don’t like to add these food very often, if at all, is that I prefer to focus more on the fresh living food such as fruit, greens, vegetables and sprouts.  The fillers are included to make the smoothie filling and the other ingredients are to give it flavour.  I think my 6 ingredients are essential for a great Green Thickie.

Give your digestion a rest

However the more types of foods you include in your smoothie, the harder the body is going to find it to digest it.

We are focusing mainly on health here

I also don’t think it’s good for you to eat too many dried powders.  They are fine if they are combined with fresh raw fruit and veg but not if you only rely on the powders for your nutrition.  Occasionally I’ll use some cocoa powder or carob powder for a chocolate smoothie, but not too often as I can’t tolerate caffeine and I know a lot of other people feel the same way.  Chocolate can also be very addictive which is not a good thing for your health either.

It needs to be easy to help a healthy habit stick

Actually the main reason that I don’t include these powders in my recipes is that they are just too difficult to source.  Most people have to buy these online and that really doesn’t encourage people to eat healthily.  I believe all you need for health is already available to you in your local store.  I don’t want to make this more complicated than it needs to be.  People will stick to healthy living if it’s made easy for them.  That’s the bottom line.  I must admit I do buy a couple of things online, and will occasionally use recipes that contain more obscure ingredients so I can interest people into trying more adventurous things, but the bulk of my diet is made up from foods I can easily buy at my local store.

I hope this has helped you to make a green thickie, and please let me know if you have any more questions and I will get back to you, and also update this guide with your questions.  Many thanks.

If you have any more questions about Green Smoothies in general (Traditional Green Smoothie with just fruit/greens and water) you may find the answer to your question below:

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Katherine invented Green Thickies, A complete meal green smoothie that dramatically improves your health and fills you up. Katherine would love to chat about health or weight loss with you and help you improve your health. Connect with her via twitter @greenthickies, Facebook or on Google+

Comments

  1. I just made my very first Green Thickie & it is DELICIOUS! I cut everything in half except the oats since I used my magic bullet). I used almond milk, kale, pear, cinnamon & almond butter. YUM!!

  2. Hi–I really like your website and have found inspiration to attempt raw fooding again. I have always liked to have my smoothies really thick and I appreciate that I can oats to increase thickness and also to make it a meal. My question is can you use Thickies to assist with weight loss? Although you had excellent results with the 80/10 diet, I do not have the financial resources to live that lifestyle, but I find your approach far more accessible and doable! Thanks

    • Thank you! Yes the second time I lost weight with green smoothies I lost all my baby weight with green thickies and found them excellent for use with weight maintenance and keeping cravings away. Yes financial reasons are one of the reasons I don’t do 80/10/10 anymore as it costs far too much to eat enough fruit to get enough calories. I think adding oats is a great balance if you can tolerate them.

      • Thank you Natalia for the prompt reply. I look forward to restarting my lifestyle changes with thickies. I hope I obtain similar results as you have in weight loss–you look great!

        Your website and recipes are yummy and I appreciate the effort you have put into this very helpful site.

        Have a wonderful New Year!!

  3. I just wanted to thank you for all the information you have provided here, it is the best and most informative site for vegetable smoothies I have found. I have ulcerative colitis, so eating fruits and veggies in their whole form is quite difficult for me to digest. I’ve been drinking smoothies for a couple years (started out with mostly fruit) and have been trying to add more veggies recently, but my smoothies have tasted terrible, lol. Looking forward to trying your recipes and adding more veggies to my diet. Thanks again!

  4. Michelle says:

    Hi,

    I really want to try green thickies and I was wondering if you use packaged greens or otherwise? and when you say spinach can use baby spinach?

    Thanks

  5. I have used raw broccoli in green smoothies before with excellent results in flavor and texture. (I didn’t have any greens on hand, but I did have broccoli.) BUT I only used the stems. Peel the stems and chop them up a bit and add them in. It doesn’t make it nearly so green, and tastes great. I’m really not sure what the nutrient content of the stems is, and it’s probably not as good as the florets, but as I’ve never been a broccoli fan, this is as good as it gets. What do you think?

  6. You use Oat flakes, why can’t you substitute quinoa flakes.

    Why would you have to cook the quinoa seeds? They are good, but for convience purposes Quinoa flakes should work just as we’ll as Oats if not better.

  7. How do I make the smoothies warm?

  8. i have just started the green smoothie challange today. I am drinking 2 green smoothies a day. One for breakfast and lunch. My question is, what would you reccomend i put in my smoothie for lucnch so that it keeps me full until I get off work at 5pm
    #open2suggestions

Trackbacks

  1. [...] If you are new to Green Thickies and have more questions about making the perfect green thickie, please read this guide on How to make a Green Thickie. [...]

  2. [...] If you are new to Green Thickies and have more questions about making the perfect green thickie, please read this guide on How to make a Green Thickie. [...]

  3. [...] If you are new to Green Thickies and have more questions about making the perfect green thickie, please read this guide on How to make a Green Thickie. [...]

  4. [...] If you are new to Green Thickies and have more questions about making the perfect green thickie, please read this guide on How to make a Green Thickie. [...]

  5. [...] If you are new to Green Thickies and have more questions about making the perfect green thickie, please read this guide on How to make a Green Thickie. [...]

  6. [...] If you are new to Green Thickies and have more questions about making the perfect green thickie, please read this guide on How to make a Green Thickie. [...]

  7. [...] your own Green Thickie Recipes based on the ingredients you have.  Find out how to make your perfect Green Thickie recipe here. What equipment do I [...]

  8. [...] can also read this guide on How to make a green thickie.  If you want to re-read the original challenge invitation post you can find it [...]

  9. [...] & don’t quite remember how it got to be what it is today! I had been reading a LOT about Green Thickies & I’m pretty sure that’s where I got the idea to add [...]

  10. [...] more ideas on creating your own smoothie you can read this guide on How to make a Green Thickie.  Or read this guide on How to make a smoothie perfect every time.  Or you can find my complete [...]

  11. […] The best part is, they are really fast to make.  Either follow one of the green drink recipes, or experiment with green thickies using the 6 essential ingredients.  A batch of green thickie takes just a few minutes to whizz up in the blender and you have Green Thickies for the whole family to share.  They will also keep well in the fridge for a few days.  Read my guide to making a green thickie here. […]

  12. […] Before we start – let me introduce myself.  My name is Katherine and I blog at Green Thickies.  A Green Thickie is a meal replacement green smoothie.  If you’re interested in learning more about Green Thickies – click here to learn more. […]

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